Dowry payments in India have been persistent and largely stable over the past few decades, a World Bank study, published last week, has found.
Researchers looked at 40,000 marriages that took place in rural India between 1960 and 2008, the most recent source of dowry data.
They found that dowry was paid in 95% of the marriages even though it’s been illegal in India since 1961.
The practice continues to thrive and leaves women vulnerable to domestic violence and even death, notwithstanding the fact that it is described as a social evil.
They also found the average net dowry (difference between the value of gifts given by the bride’s family to the groom or his family and those given by the groom’s family to the bride’s family) had been remarkably stable over time, with some inflation before 1975 and after 2000.
A lot has changed in India between 2008 and now. But researchers say the trends or patterns of dowry payments were not likely to be too different today in the absence of any ‘dramatic changes or structural breaks in marriage markets, laws, human capital of men and women and women’s labour market outcomes’.
In such a scenario, there is a pressing need to challenge the ills prevailing in the society which continue to threaten the woman because all sorts of tragedies befall daughters-in-law from kitchen fires, suicides and mysterious ailments. Marriage and money continue to be tied together. The fact that dowry has been illegal since 1961 means little. The vast majority of families, from the urban elite to other sections, still pay some form of dowry. The deaths remain an ominuous ignominy across India. Jammu and Kashmir is no exception. Various forms of crimes against women exist.
According to the latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data for IPC cases, a woman becomes a victim of dowry death roughly every one hour. Additionally, she becomes a victim of cruelty by her husband or in-laws every four minutes. As per law, women who die within seven years of marriage must be autopsied. There is also a need for awareness as the official figures of dowry deaths remain just the tip of the iceberg. The grim aspect remains when it becomes so entrenched that no one thinks it to be worth talking about. The women still being forced to take extreme steps for dowry in contemporary times should enrage one and all. There is a need to address the demand. Simplicity in marriages is the need of the hour.